Well this horsey business is a roller-coaster isn’t it! One minute you are on top of the world and the next you are (literally) flat on your face in mud.
This month started with Eland BE90. Amber was AWESOME. She slipped 3 times in the dressage and I over-rode for a silly pole SJ but flew the XC with just 2 time pens. She did not hesitate at a thing and could have gone round 3 times. Woohoo. It was just brilliant. And has answered my ‘should I event her barefoot’ question. (No.)
Then 2 weeks later it was time for Bradwall BE90. Storm Hannah hit and the conditions were HORRENDOUS. Relentless heavy rain, strong winds, the odd flurry of hail. I sat in the lorry staring gloomily at horizontal rain pondering my options. A friend updated FB: “I’ve been eliminated in the SJ and am waiting for a tractor to tow me off.” A teenager from my yard finished, was shivering like a whippet and withdrew her 2nd horse. What to do? But in the end I decided that dealing with adverse conditions is part of eventing. I did not want Amber to have a negative experience but how would I know how she would cope unless I tried? I’ve ridden in clinics in worse conditions (possibly), my manta being: if they’ll teach in it, I’ll ride in it. So I needed to just get out there and do my best. And Amber needed to suck it up and listen to me regardless of the weather. And, bless her, she did.
A hail-storm hit as we warmed up for dressage but despite that she rode a calm(ish) obedient(ish) test. She was not straight as she kept bending her head and body away from the wind but I’ll let her off that. It was a 39.8 – so not a good score – but I was thrilled with her attitude which was kind of resigned and accepting as opposed to having a tantrum or freaking out.
So onto show-jumping which was where my day ended when I tried to play safe at the last fence and held her for an extra stride. Which meant she hit the churned up rubbish in front of the fence, lost her footing and skidded in. She made to jump anyway so I went forward then she sensibly changed her mind and I toppled down her neck. The most ridiculously unnecessary fall. So mad with myself. I spent all evening beating myself up about a) taking her in the first place and possibly knocking her confidence and b) stuffing it up and knocking mine!
Then I re-read the ideas around embracing failure: If I ride to my limits then I will sometimes mess it up. And I will learn from that and get better. The only way not to fail is to never try anything hard. And actually I discovered that Amber is pretty robust in bad weather which is useful to know. And seemed totally unconcerned by the skid or the unplanned dismount. Plus I learnt that if I try to play it safe, I interrupt the flow, overthink things and make a hash of it. Tentative and hesitant riding is not the way to go. So that’s another mistake I’ll know not to make again.
Straight after Bradwall it was the pairs HT at Eland Lodge over the BE80 course. What a difference a day makes! The sun was shining and we were eating ice creams in t shirts. The twins entered on their matching white ponies and they looked great. Even better, they rode great too! Dolly led Jenny round and both jumped confident clears. Dolly acts way older than her tender years! She is a real old soul. She is just so brave and bold.
So we are back on top of the world again. For now. But one thing for sure is that horsey fortunes are as fickle as the British weather. And to enjoy the sunny uplands we have to do a lot of hard, hard work in the rain. But that is what makes the successes all the sweeter.